Stanford University
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Change Leadership for Sustainability Program

Degree Requirements

The Sustainability Science and Practice coterminal master’s program welcomes and integrates students with diverse experiences and viewpoints, as we believe this is essential to solving the complex, interdisciplinary sustainability challenges of our time. Stanford students from a broad range of undergraduate disciplines– from computer science to sociology, and Earth systems to public policy – are encouraged to apply.

Choose an MS or MA

Students have the option to pursue either an M.S or an M.A. in Sustainability Science and Practice. The type of degree earned will depend on whether the student takes a majority of natural science and engineering units or social sciences and humanities units. The M.S. and M.A. are designed to be accessible to students from any undergraduate major, once certain pre-requisites are satisfied. During the program, students are able to petition for course and elective exceptions through a Course Petition Form. 


Students who wish to earn the M.S. in Sustainability Science and Practice must fulfill the following mathematics and statistics requirements prior to or during the master’s program.

If the math and statistics requirements are fulfilled during the master’s program, the units for the course work may not be counted toward the 45 units required for master's degree completion.

How to Apply

1) Review eligibility - see above links to degree requirements.

2) Prepare the required materials:

  • The online Stanford coterminal application.
  • A statement of purpose, about one page in length, that describes the applicant's sustainability interests, the experiences that have influenced the student and motivated them to apply, and what the applicant hopes to learn from and contribute to the program. The statement should provide a clear picture of who the applicant is and what matters to them.
  • A current resume.
  • A current Stanford unofficial transcript.
  • Two letters of recommendation from Stanford faculty who know the applicant well and can speak to their qualifications and fit for the program. At least one of the faculty writers must be an Academic Council Member (i.e., professor, associate professor, or assistant professor; if unsure whether a faculty member is on Academic Council, please contact the SUST program before applying). An optional third letter of recommendation may also be submitted for consideration. The online application includes an entry field where the applicant should indicate the name and email address of each person who will be providing a recommendation. Once the applicant submits this information, each recommender will receive an automated email with instructions and a link to the application form.
  • Prior to applying to the SUST program, the applicant must identify a faculty member who agrees to serve as the student's master's advisor. Potential advisors include those faculty members listed on the SUST website. Please note that Professor Paul Brest, Professor Jeff Koseff, Professor Pamela Hinds, and Professor William Barnett are unable to take any further advisees for the 2020-2021 academic year. 
  • Course Proposal form reviewed and signed by the SUST Student Services Officer, Lauren Neville, and the applicant's master's advisor. The Course Proposal form lists the courses that the applicant intends to take to fulfill degree requirements. The advisor's signature of approval on the completed Course Proposal form is required at the time of application. To schedule a course proposal review meeting, please email Lauren at Students can view pre-approved courses and electives on the SUST Course Spread Sheet. 

Please note that we do not require GRE scores.

3) Submit the online application by the deadline. Applications close at 11.59pm on the 7th Tuesday of quarter. For the 2020/2021 academic year, applications are due as follows:

  • Autumn quarter: October 27, 2020
  • Winter quarter: February 23, 2021 

4) Decisions and acceptances:

Applications will be reviewed each quarter after the application deadline, and applicants can expect to be notified of admissions decisions via email within approximately 5 business days. If an offer of admission is extended, students will have one week to accept or decline that offer. Instructions for this will be in the offer email.

Our Winter Info Session will be on Tuesday, January 26, 2021 from 12:00-1:00pm (pst). To receive a Zoom link for this event, please email

Please also see our Explore Degrees listing in the Bulletin.

University Coterminal Requirements

University requirements for the coterminal master’s degree are described in the Coterminal Master’s Program section. After accepting admission to this coterminal master’s degree program, students may request transfer of courses from the undergraduate to the graduate career to satisfy requirements for the master’s degree. Transfer of courses to the graduate career requires review and approval of both the undergraduate and graduate programs on a case by case basis. 

In this master’s program, courses taken during or after the first quarter of the sophomore year are eligible for consideration for transfer to the graduate career; the timing of the first graduate quarter is not a factor. No courses taken prior to the first quarter of the sophomore year may be used to meet master’s degree requirements.

Course transfers are not possible after the bachelor’s degree has been conferred.

The University requires that the graduate adviser be assigned in the student’s first graduate quarter even though the undergraduate career may still be open. The University also requires that the Master’s Degree Program Proposal be completed by the student and approved by the department by the end of the student’s first graduate quarter.

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I was able to learn from passionate and kind sustainability leaders and try out my learnings on real-world issues.

Degree FAQs

Questions? See our FAQs.

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